Homicide Drops Off List Of Top 15 Causes Of Death - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Homicide Drops Off List Of Top 15 Causes Of Death

WASHINGTON – For the first time in 45 years, homicide is no longer among the 15 leading causes of death in the United States, according to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, an analysis of deaths in 2010, is the latest confirmation of homicide's steep decline over more than a decade, especially in America's largest cities.

Of the 2.4 million total deaths reported in 2010, there were 16,065 homicides, down from 16,799 a year earlier.

Included in that number, firearm-related homicides also declined to 11,015 from 11,493 in 2009, according the report which gathers data from death certificates provided by the states.

Heart disease and cancer, the two most common causes of death, accounted for 47% of all deaths last year.

The report, however, generally tracks the dramatic downward trajectory of homicides reported in recent years to the FBI by law enforcement authorities in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Between 1990 and 2010, the last full year of crime data reported to the FBI, homicides in New York dropped 76%; they were down 70% in Los Angeles and 49% in Chicago during the same time period.

Sherry Murphy, an author of the CDC analysis, said changes to the death list are generally rare.

Homicide had been among the top 15 causes since 1965, rising as high as 13th in 2001. Murphy said it fell to 16 in 2010, replaced by the lung inflammation known as pneumonitis, common among the elderly. Three-quarters of the pneumonitis deaths in 2010 claimed victims 75 years or older, she said.

Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, who studies homicide, said the CDC's findings may have more to do with changing demographics than with dramatic changes in the nation's crime culture.

"Given where we are in the life cycle, with the Baby Boom generation aging and more vulnerable to disease, the population generally is at less risk of homicide," Fox said.

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